Ask Mike: Wreck of the Muss Bus, Portal Gains for Pitt & More NIL Reform Talk

By Mike Irwin
on 2024-01-08 16:49 PM

Q. Our first question is from Piglet who wants to know: What do you think the missing ingredient(s) of this years basketball team is? After the Auburn loss, it is obvious something is wrong.

A. We can start by saying, when they go up against a really physical basketball team they wear down pretty quickly and eventually just stop giving effort. We’ve seen that twice, Once against Oklahoma and Saturday against Auburn.

Eric Musselman needs an effective power forward who weighs in to 230-240 range. Makahi Mitchell has the size but not the game. He’s uncertain of himself offensively and he seems to be anchored to the floor on defense. Arkansas has other options. Jalen Graham, Trevon Brazile and Chandler Lawson can score but their defense is not what you need and against a team with a really physical inside game.

However, the biggest problem with this team is a lack of sustained effort. You don’t beat Purdue and Duke if you don’t have talent. This bunch takes too many minutes off. There needs to be better leadership from the players who were here last year. Devo Davis, Brazile and Graham.

Q. WVHogfan asks: Do you think the basketball team has too many players that wants to be the star and is not willing to play team ball? I was always taught that there is no I in TEAM.

A. That could be part of the problem but I really believe there are too many guys who are not totally focused on basketball. This bunch reminds me of the football team. It doesn’t seem to bother them that much to get embarrassed at home. Some of it could be NIL money. Some of it could be a failure to sync up with their new teammates and the idea that if it doesn’t work out they can always hit the portal again.

Q. sgiles says: Six weeks until baseball season starts. Hoops is done right? NIT at best? That’s a long time to wait for something positive.

A. We’ll have a good idea after the next two games. Georgia and Florida are both a lot better than they were projected to be in the pre season. Georgia went on the road and took down Missouri Saturday night. Florida played the pants off Kentucky in Gainesville and lost by two points. Georgia does have a 7 footer and he can score 20 on you but they start a four-guard lineup and three of them will go double figures in most games. Arkansas inside guys will be challenged and their guards too.

Florida features to guards that go 6-6 and 6-3. One is a 5th year player the other a junior. They each scored 23 on Kentucky.

Arkansas cannot play the way it did against Auburn and win either one of those games. An 0-3 start might put this team on a depressing path to the NIT in post season. Those two games are huge.

Q. Sherlock.Hawg says: Explain the responsibilities of each assistant coach when it comes to player development? What are we missing with the departure of Gus Argenal?

A. All of the assistants have a role in development but I get the point of your question. Is the departure of Argenal the reason why this team is struggling? I would say no. I’ve already outlined what I think the problem is.

Q. Iwastherein1969 says: Menifeld’s release by the NCAA very well could and likely has saved the Muss Bus’ bacon this season. We now have Kareem Reed (part II). What say you ?

A. This question was submitted before that Auburn game. I’m not sure you’d have the same optimism today. I will say that Menifield is the one player on this team who looks focused. It’s too bad his teammates aren’t following his lead.

Q. Sherlock.Hawg says: None of the freshmen we get play any real minutes and leave. Where’s Baye? This starting over every year is for the birds and is driving me bonkers.

A. The three five star freshmen he recruited last year all played a lot and they’re now in the NBA. But I get your point, freshmen who need to develop tend to leave. Look that’s his style. Bring in upperclassmen who are ready to go. As long as the portal is what it is this will continue. It’s not like Muss is the only coach doing this.

Q. Hogdogger wants to know: Does the hog wild band still exist? I don’t hear about them lately. I just remember the band leader running up and down the bleachers during the game.

A. It’s still there. The difference in the way Bud Walton Arena is laid out compared to Barnhill prevents any band leader from doing what Jim Robkein did. He was already gone in the last couple of years in Barnhill and while his successor tried to keep all that energy going it wasn’t the same. The biggest issue with the band now, and we’ve mentioned this before, is the addition of the live D.J.. Old guys like me don’t like it but most of the fans these days are used to it and probably even prefer it.

Q. To football now…where Pig Worshipper asks: Don’t you think the online vitriol aimed at Sam Pittman is in the coo coo for Cocoa Puffs category by now? While he hasn’t been perfect, what coach is? But the criticism seems way, way over the top. What gives?

A. In the days right after the season ended I feel like what I was reading on social media was justified. The fans had a right to be mad at him. All of the things he said when he was hired seemed to be gone. He was just another coach protected with a big buyout.

But the hiring of Bobby Petrino was a huge plus. Changing this team with the transfer portal started slow but it’s really picked up. As of today they have the number 9 portal class, 3rd in the SEC, and it’s probably going to go up some more.
Yes there are those who continue grumble on the Internet and they will stay that way until next season starts. But I do see a change with most of the fans even on social media. I think they are genuinely interested to see what Bobby Petrino can do with the quarterbacks and receivers on this team. Taylen Green, a 6-6 quarterback transfer our of Boise State runs a 4.4 40 with a good arm. Some are already comparing him to former Razorback Matt Jones.

There are several incoming receivers including Jordan Anthony from Texas A&M who is one of the fastest players ever to sign with Arkansas. This kid has run a 10.2 100 meters. 10.6 is considered fast for most receivers. He doesn’t run a 4.4 40 or even a 4.3. His 40 time is in the 4.2’s.

Arkansas has also added three offensive linemen and will likely add two more.

They got a top running back out of Utah and and 4-star linebacker from Georgia. Plus an outstanding edge rusher out of the FCS ranks.

There are others and like I indicated, they are not finished. The bottom line, spring football, less than three months away, is gonna be really interesting

Q. robs4516 wants to know: What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on with the linebacker room?

A. Poo Paul was a surprise. They did not want him to leave. The others? Well, we are told that Travis Williams did not like the way they dropped off in the final three SEC home games. So he’s essentially starting from scratch. Xavian Sorey is a 4-star linebacker out of Georgia. In high school recruiting they’ve signed three linebackers. Two of them are top 50 nationally and one, out of Alabama, is 14th. There is a 3 star redshirt sophomore on the roster. He was a top 30 linebacker two years ago.

I’m told that after spring football is over, when the portal opens back up, they will try to bring in maybe two more ready to play linebackers.

Q. Florida_Man says: More than 24 players opted out of the FSU – Georgia Orange Bowl which had potential to be a great game between an undefeated FSU team and the defending national champions. Outside of die hard fans is college football going to see a huge decline in interest?

A. No because next year, with 12 teams in the playoffs, this sort of thing will be greatly reduced. You’ll still see in with non playoffs bowl teams but that’s been going on for 20 years to so.

Q. Pigsfeat asks: Do you think the mass exodus of players into the transfer portal, before their team plays in a bowl game, will end the traditional bowl game tradition and only include the top 16 that make it to the playoffs?

A. No. Non playoff bowl games will continue. Coaches like it because of the extra practice time. They use it to work the players coming back, like a mini spring practice. It’s also a reward for seniors who are not likely to be drafted. They get to go on a nice trip. There are a lot of fun activities. It’s a nice way to end their college playing days.

Q. Referring to a statement Jim Harbaugh made about cutting coaches salaries to create a revenue sharing plan for college football players, dagnamit wants to know: How much less he or other coaches would take to help compensate players? What do you think of what he proposed?

A. I don’t think coaches are going to agree to take less. What he’s talking about is socialism. We live in a capitalistic economy which I like. There is a way to do this though, and if you want to call it revenue sharing fine. Take the total TV revenue for each of the power 4 conferences and earmark a percentage of that for each athlete on scholarship in every sport. Remember, what these athletes do outside of the classroom, is part time. Twenty hours per week. I think a fair contribution would be by maybe $2,000 per month. On top of the $1,000 most are already getting that’s over $30,000 a year spending money when all of their other expenses are covered. The total value of a scholarship would be in the $60-$70 thousand dollars a year range. If that’s taking advantage of them, I’m six-foot six.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: Looking ahead 5 to 10 years from now, what do you see for college athletics? Can you see a single league of 30ish schools in football, and could it be possible the U of A could be outside that group?

A. I first talked about this a few months ago as a possibility. Now the NCAA president has proposed it as a way of equally distributing NIL money. It’s a bad idea and if it ever happens schools that are in that elite division will be the big boys at the high stakes poker table and the other 80 or 90 BCS schools of today will be told to go away and play each other in a division without the big dollars. It may look good on paper for schools like Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas, Texas A&M, schools with huge booster money available, but in the long run they would regret it. In my opinion fans do not want a completely professionalized college football league.

Q. HangTenHog wants to know: What is your favorite, behind the scenes, memory from the 1977 football run that should have been a National Championship? I can tell you my worst, watching Earl Campbell when UT played the Hogs.

A. Driving 1,300 miles in just under 20 hours was not the fun part for sure. But once we got there I liked the media day where we were on the field of the Orange bowl the day before the game. We had one hour with each team. The players were there. Just go up and ask your questions. Today we get press conferences. There’s no way you can get in a press conference with four or five players and the head coach what we got that day. When it was over I knew Arkansas was gonna win. The OU players were overconfident. Arkansas guys were focused and ready to go. They called that game an upset. It was not. Arkansas was just as talented as OU and they were coached better by Lou Holtz and his staff. Those ’77 Razorbacks will always be special to me.

(Last updated: 2024-01-08 16:49 PM)